If Labor Day celebrations are not yet fully planned, take this as an emphatic recommendation to host an authentic Crawfish Boil (or lobster or shrimp…). Recent first-hand experience confirmed it to be among the most memorable of summer evenings with all essential elements accounted for…great friends, delicious food and seasonal microbrews. Needless to say, I have been bursting with excitement and anticipation of this post.
Embarking on one of our biggest ventures, yet, my food-loving comrades and I excitedly gathered in suburban Philadelphia with high hopes that were not just met, but exceeded! The daylong affair allows for all hands on deck and is well worth the effort. A few relatively simple steps (honestly) will get you to crawfish-crushing euphoria:
- Get crawfish! We had 40 lbs of jumbo crawfish (10-12 count/lb) flown in from Louisiana via Southwest Airlines Cargo. A quick online order from Kyle LeBlanc Crawfish Farms and subsequent airport pickup will get pounds of succulent live creatures to your doorstep (or purchase from a local fishmonger)
- Obtain a 60-quart pot and 8-inch skimmer from a restaurant supply store (or improvise with comparable equipment)
- Assemble ingredients and kitchen tools
- Prepare for a timed cooking execution
- Cover table with layered sheets of newspaper
Old-Fashioned Crawfish Boil
Adapted from Epicurious.com
Makes 8-10 servings
12 oz Seafood Boil seasoning (or 4oz bottle of liquid seafood boil spice)
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
5 lb small red potatoes, left whole
6 ears of corn, shucked and halved
4 medium onions, peeled and halved
3 heads garlic, halved
3 lemons, halved
1 lb Kielbasa, cut into chunks
1 lb Andouille sausage, cut into chunks
40 lbs live crawfish, sorted, rinsed and brought to room temperature*
*Crawfish need to be kept cold (38 to 42 degrees F) until rinsing and bringing to room temperature. Do this by keeping the crawfish in an ice chest and/or insulated sack, leaving them with a layer of ice on the bottom and on top. Place a wet towel on top of the crawfish. Remember to replenish with ice as it melts and allow for any excess water to drain out.
1. Ready the crawfish: After keeping cold, carefully sort the crawfish so to remove any that have already died or otherwise overtly immobile. (We lost about 10 lbs after sorting.) Thoroughly rinse the live crawfish and bring to room temperature.
*Host an impromptu race if the status of any crawfish is in question. A few exhilarating or stagnant moments will reveal if any are ill-suited for the boil.
2. Fill a 60-quart pot with water until one-half to three-fourth of the way full. Stir in the Seafood Boil seasoning and butter. Bring water to a boil over direct heat. (We placed the pot on a charcoal grill reinforced with steel grates)
3. When water comes to a boil, add the red potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except crawfish (corn, onion, garlic, lemon*, kielbasa, andouille sausage) and cook for an additional 10 minutes. *Squeeze lemon into pot to release the juice before dropping into water
4. Add the live crawfish. Cook for approximately 8 minutes or until done. You will know when the crawfish are ready when the shells turn a bright shade of red and the tails curl under. At this point, remove from heat so to not overcook.
5. Use a skimmer to scoop out all contents of the pot, straining out the liquid. Drop everything directly onto the table covered with newspaper. Dig in hands first! Adult bib encouraged. :)